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Whose dish is on the chopping block? On the last day of the New York Wine and Food Festival, Chopped fans and foodies alike gathered at Hudson River Park’s Pier 97 for the ultimate brunch event. The Sunday Brunch, featured the judges from the cast of Chopped as well as offerings from over 30 top NYC brunch locations. Drinks were flowing as attendees sampled bites from each restaurant and partook in various activities. Also hosting were Power Foodie Couple Devour Power.
If you were living under a rock, Chopped is a popular Food Network competition that challenges top chefs to create an unforgettable dish, before the allotted time runs out. Did the participating talent step up to the plate and create such spectacular dishes? Well, you’re about to find out.
The event, an indoor and outdoor food festival, consisted of delicious dishes and drinks, incredible performances, and fun interactive activities. The tented indoor space felt slightly overcrowded, since it had more food/drink options. The outdoor area, in addition to the food and drink, also had a make your own terrarium station, a mini food competition, as well as booths from sponsors of the festival, albeit it was a lot easier to move around. I spent a majority of my time under the tent, since I vowed to try every dish the festival had to offer. I spent the afternoon critiquing the dishes on their presentation, taste, and creativity. Kind of like the Chopped criteria. Here are my favorite food and drink selections.
My Favorite Dishes
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Violette’s Cellar, the latest restaurant from Chef Bostros, served a “B.E.C LT” Empanada. Made with house-cured bacon, farmhouse eggs, smoked gouda béchamel, Maine lobster, tomato jam and flaky pastry, the dish absolutely blew me away and had me coming back for more. Out of every booth at the festival, I stopped by this one at least 5 times (probably more). I have had empanadas before, but never one made with these ingredients. Everything about it was sheer perfection; the concept, the quality, and the presentation.
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The Usual is Chef Alvin’s first NYC restaurant, where he puts his own authentic spin on casual comfort foods. The Usual served a traditional Filipino breakfast porridge topped with egg, crispy shallots, scallions, and fish sauce. While this dish may not have the same level of presentation that other chefs brought to the table, it made up for it in taste and creativity. I love egg and fish separately, but together? Mwah! The flavors brought the porridge to the next level.
San Matteo changed the game with their dish. Just when you were thinking that there was no way for pizza to be better than it already is, San Matteo created their brunch pizza. The dish is made with homemade mozzarella, caciocavallo pancetta, black pepper, olive oil and basil, topped with an egg. What an incredible way to put a fun twist on a beloved meal!
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Long Acre Tavern brought us Coconut Cream Pancakes; buttermilk pancakes with coconut cream sauce, lime butter and cinnamon. The pancakes were light, soft, and extremely fluffy. The sauce was a wonderful warm and gooey addition to the dish. If I could cook, this would be my go to breakfast every morning. I recommend stopping by the restaurant to try these miracle pancakes. You’ll thank me later!
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New Territories is a dessert shop that brings traditional Hong Kong sweets to NYC. Peter Mei and Carmen Lau create and make unique desserts that push boundaries. I love innovative food and dessert, which is why I was so intrigued by their Pickle Peanut Butter Ice Cream. What’s funny is I was more interested in the pickle than the peanut butter! I’ve never been a huge fan of peanut butter, but something about the two flavors mixed together created a delicious savory treat.
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Chef David Perez from Eléa served Greek Bougatsa & Iced Frappé. Greek Bougatsa is a handmade warm phyllo and vanilla custard pastry that is served with traditional Greek iced coffee. The pastry was flaky, covered in powdered sugar, and had an incredible filling.
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I love Matcha, so when I saw Matcha Bar had a booth, I HAD to try the drinks they were sampling. The Fortgang brothers, Max and Graham, opened Matcha Bar in 2014 and have been making amazing beverages ever since. My favorites from their booth were the original Matcha and the Raspberry Matcha.
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Chef Jelena Pasic brought non-alcoholic watermelon coolers to Sunday Brunch. The classic Harlem Shakebeverage was so refreshing and much needed due to the random heat wave that we were blessed with. I downed so many, I stopped counting! It was like drinking the juice straight from the fruit.
illy brought two different kinds of beverages to the event. The first was an Orange Cold Brew Aria mixed with Titos Vodka and Orange Juice. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did! The second drink was a drip coffee featuring Keuring K-Cup illy Blend Classico or illy blend intenso. The layers of coffee was aesthetically pleasing. Thankful for the much needed energy boost! Not sure I would have made it to every booth without it.
Live music was a great addition to the event, both inside and out. Reggae band SUNDUB graced the main stage at the beginning of the festival. Outside of the tent DJ Danny Stern brought the party to us.
The event was family friendly, so there were many areas set up to occupy the children who were at the festival. There was a make your own terrarium station, a candy taste test game, face-painting, and more! My favorite was the kids taste test competition, at the Capital One booth. They selected three volunteers to try meat and substitute meat dishes. The contestants had to guess which was the substitute. Most of the kids guessed correctly, but one emerged victorious, after clearly pointing out which strip of bacon was the vegan replacement.
The cast of Chopped held a meet and greet during the festival as well. The line was so long it wrapped around the venue! The staff closed the line very early on, but many attendees were able to meet and take photos with their favorite Chopped judge. Even though I didn’t participate in the meet and greet, I loved watching huge fans of the show meet their idols! I was able to meet Chef Marc Murphy and Chef Scott Conant after the event concluded, as they posed for a quick photo before leaving the venue.
The NYCWFF goes down every year, so make sure to stay in the loop about upcoming events.